The Czech & Slovak American Genealogy Society of Illinois is an incorporated, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Founded in Illinois in 1996 with membership worldwide. CSAGSI was formed because people like yourself who have roots in Bohemia, Slovakia, Moravia, Silesia, or Carpatho-Ruthenian who felt a need to develop, preserve and share genealogical, historical and cultural knowledge of our ancestors.
The initial meeting of the Founders of CSAGSI convened in Brookfield, IL on March 9, 1996, at the home of Richard, Catherine and Joseph Hartzel. The Founders, for the most part, had previously been members of the Czech & Slovak Interest Group of the Chicago Genealogical Society. Several of the Interest Group members realized that there was a need for an independent Czech & Slovak Genealogy Society in the Chicago area. At that time, the Articles of Incorporation were finalized, approved and signed by Joseph Hartzel, Charles Vlk, Paul Valasek, Dolores Benes Duy, Richard Hartzel, Robert Baumruk and Evelyn Krenek Fergle.
Other Founders who were part of the first organizational meetings were Catherine Hartzel, Barbara Vlk, Chris Miksanek, Paul Nemecek, George and Louise Rokos, Ronald Tallurico and Andrea Valasek.
On March 23, 1996, our first general membership meeting and program was held at Tabor Hills Retirement Community in Naperville, Illinois. The program featured seven residents, ages 77 to 103, who shared what it was like to have grown up in a Czech-American household. Fifty people attended this meeting. On March 25, 1996, Joseph Hartzel sent a letter and membership flyers to the Interest Group members informing them of our new Genealogy Society. By September 1, 1996, we expanded rapidly and grew to 324 Charter Memberships.
The first officers were President, Joseph Hartzel; Vice President, Charles Vlk; Treasurer, Paul Valasek; and Secretary, Dolores Benes Duy. The Directors were Richard Hartzel, Robert Baumruk, Evelyn Krenek Fergle, Chris Miksanek and George Rokos. Plans were made for a quarterly journal entitled KORENY (which means “Roots”). Our logo, featuring the map of Illinois, surrounded by the heraldic shields of Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia, Ruthenia and Silesia was developed. A website was created by Chris Miksanek.
During the period of growth of the society, meetings were held at Beacon Hill Retirement Center, Helen Plum Memorial Library, Brookfield Village Hall, the Riverside Township Hall, Downers Grove Public Library and now our “home base” which is located at the First Presbyterian Church of La Grange, IL. Twenty years after our first meeting, we can proudly look at a membership of about 800, with members currently residing in 41 states and the Czech Republic.
Through the years, we have presented a variety of cultural, historical and genealogical programs with an average attendance between 80 and 180 persons per meeting. Workshops and conferences have been held throughout the years and were very successful. Major projects included the printing of the Denni Hlasatel Obituary Index, Index to the Records of Linhart Funeral Home (Cicero, 1913-1954), Index to the 1872-1889 and 1890-1915 Death Records of St. Procopius Church, Index to the Eulogy Notes of Frank Kostka, revised version of Jack Bochar’s Locations of Chicago Roman Catholic Churches 1850-1990, Czech & Slovak Personal Names, and the translation into English of the Dejiny Cechu v Chicagu (A History of the Czechs in Chicago) by Rudolf Bubenicek. Our publications have proven to be significant genealogical and historical resources to the Czech/Slovak community. Our most recent contribution to the community was the countless hours spent by 100 volunteers who indexed the Bohemian National Cemetery burial records.
Newsletters are sent prior to each meeting informing our members of current meeting dates and programs. Our journal, KORENY, has continued to be published quarterly with interesting articles pertaining to genealogy and our culture. Editors from 1996 to the present have been: Paul Valasek, Charles Vlk, Shirley Farano, Jill Spealman, Ron Davis, Joseph Hartzel, Faith Hudacek Anderson and Elizabeth Stigler.
One of our finest assets is the CSAGSI Paul M. Nemecek Genealogy Collection, which was located in the T. G. Masaryk School in Cicero until we relocated to the Riverside Public Library, Riverside, IL in 2015. The library holdings are second to none for researching our immigrants who lived or passed through the Chicagoland area. Under the supervision of Paul Nemecek, our library continues to expand and draw increasing numbers of visitors. See information about our hours and holdings on our website at www.csagsi.org.
We have had the dedicated leadership of six presidents since the beginning of our society: Joseph Hartzel, William Hosna, Paul Nemecek, Ray Capek, Glenn Spachman and Sue Pomazal Rolsky. In addition, through countless hours of hard work, many member volunteers have contributed the devotion and perseverance necessary to accomplish all our achievements. Since 2006, the Anton J. Cermak Genealogy Builder Award has been presented to those who make a significant contribution to our society or other Czech and Slovak cultural groups or organizations.
All who have served as officers, directors, committee chairpersons, and workers, without exception, embody the motto of our Society….”Preserving our Bohemian, Moravian, Slovakian, Ruthenian and Silesian Heritage” to the utmost. CSAGSI is and always will be dedicated to our past, present and most importantly to our future.
This history provided courtesy of Dolores Benes Duy.
Collecting and Cataloging Denni Hlasatel Obituaries
CSAGSI member volunteers continue to collect, catalog, and with a plan of indexing, member and non member donations of Denni Hlasatel Obituaries.
CSAGSI continues to seek donations of Dennis Hlasatel Obituaries. So far, we have collected and indexed over 8,000 obituaries. They can be viewed at the Paul Nemecek Collection in the Riverside Library. Check back for progress updates.
Would you like to donate? Do you have a question? Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Research Library Volunteers
On the days that CSAGSI volunteers staff the research library, members and non members visit and receive help with their genealogy searches. When we find some new family data for our own tree we have a sense of accomplishment. That is also true when we help some one else do the same thing. Research library volunteers also have a chance to discover new places to search, just by being around and working with the other library volunteers. Volunteers are available at our Collections Room on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 AM to 2 PM, and on the second and fourth Saturday of each month (same time).
If you are interested in volunteering - email: email@example.com
Collecting - Making Links To CSAGSI Member Public Web Sites
A new project has begun to collect and make a links page for all CSAGSI member public web sites. There are many options for people wishing to post their family tree information to free public web sites. Some people even create their own web site. It is our hope that by creating such a links page many of us will discover a public web site of one of our members that can be helpful for our own family research.
Have a public web site? Send info to: firstname.lastname@example.org
As a non-profit, CSAGSI relies on donations to help accomplish our mission. The projects we take on - the indexing of over 116,000 burial records at Bohemian National Cemetery or the translation of the Rudolf Bubenicek book - require additional funds and LOTS of volunteer time. Please consider a contribution to our great society or become a volunteer on one of our committees.